For those of you North Americans not in the eastern third of North America, it may be hard to believe that this is the first time I have found brews from the Goose Island Beer Co. in my north-eastern travels. But such is the power of inter-state, international and inter-provincial beer regulation. I found these at Finger Lake Beverages.
Goose Island started brewing in at the tail end of the first wave of modern micro-brewing in 1988 and is now a regional mega-micro - really:
At full capacity, annual production can reach nearly 1.6 million cases. Last year, over 600,000 cases of Goose Island Beer were distributed to eight states throughout the Midwest.Bill Yenne's The American Brewery rates Goose Island as the 32nd largest brewery in the USA...at about 4.37% of the production of Anheuser-Busch. My access to these fine ales may be via a new distribution deal with AB Bud-makers announced just the other week on Beer Advocate but maybe not. Forbes may be off the mark in saying AB is buying Goose Island - but given craft brewing's 9% leap in 2005 and Bud's decline (not only in Germany) along with other macros it would be a smart move. Rather neato to see the brewery has a pub near Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs and also neato to see that they have brewed exactly two bazillion different beers over the years. Hey - there is a great interview with the brewer Greg Hall at Chicagoist from two days ago including info on that deal...and I never knew there was a "downstate" in Illinois.
In the green label is Goose Island India Pale Ale at 5.9% and in the red is Honker's Ale at 4.3%.
- Honker's Ale: This beer pours a red-tinged dark straw with white foam and rim. The taste is sweet biscuity with a clear twig hop slash through the middle. Well balanced with a nod to stock with a husky (maybe even bone dry dark cocoa) note in the end. There is a great fruitiness to the malt with cherry, apricot and apple and the yeast is creamy. The body is not as big as you might have thought going in but that befits its light strength. This would make a great session ale. Pretty good marks at 96% yea from the BAers.
- India Pale Ale: This beer pours a notch lighter in hue, orange-straw with white foam and rim. There is a clean orange blossom green hop aroma. In the mouth lots of grapefruit peel hop and husky grain and twig hops. These sit above malty sweetness. This IPA lacks that imposing heat that bigger versions foist upon the unsuspecting. This leaves some opportunity to contemplate the jangling hops while maintaining the sensation in your toes. All big beers need not push up against Belgian triple alcohol levels. More body than Honker's Ale with the yeast and malt joining to make a richness along with the hop and touch of sweet giving the BAers cause to like this one even more.